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Saranac man among those charged with worker's comp fraud

NEW YORK CITY - A North Country man is among more than a dozen arrested on charges of illegally scamming the Workers' Compensation system.

Donald R. Velie Jr., 43, Saranac, is accused of working while collecting benefits he received after being hurt while a state corrections officer.

Velie was charged as part of a series of arrests following investigations by the New York State Insurance Department's Frauds Bureau, along with investigators from the Workers' Compensation Board Office of the Fraud Inspector General, the New York Insurance Fund, insurance company special investigative units and local law enforcement agencies.

"It's always wrong when people take benefits they don't deserve and it's particularly troubling now because resources are scarce in today's economy. Workers' compensation benefits need to go to people who are legitimately entitled to receive them and not to those who would cheat the system," Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said in a prepared statement.

"Workers' compensation fraud is a felony and we are on the watch for those who commit it," added New York State Insurance Fund Chief Deputy Executive Director and Secretary to the Board of Commissioners Francine James. "With help from local law enforcement and our partner agencies in New York State we are sending a clear message - offenders will be caught."

Velie and the other 12 individuals arrested are being prosecuted by their respective county district attorneys. The 13 arrests resulted in a range of charges which, in the event of convictions, could lead to sentences of up to seven years in prison. In some cases, individuals were charged with workers' compensation fraud, while in other cases, the charges included grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing.

Last year, the Insurance Department's Frauds Bureau received 1,352 reports of suspected workers' comp fraud and conducted investigations leading to the arrests of 119 New Yorkers for workers' compensation-related criminal offenses.

Those with information about suspected worker's comp fraud cases may give anonymous tips to 1-888-FRAUD-NY.

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